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Catholic Patriarchy

Catholic Patriarchy

from Towards a Liberal Catholicism
Psychology and Four Women
by Peter C. Morea. SCM Press. 2000, pp.96-110.

A woman’s place is in the wrong. (Old joke)

As truly as God is our father so, just as truly, God is our mother. (Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love)

I feel in me the vocation of the PRIEST. With what love, O Jesus, I would carry You in my hands when, at my voice, You would come down from heaven. And with what love would I give You to souls! (Thérèse of Lisieux, Story of a Soul)

Until quite recently, most Christians took literally the story of Adam and Eve and the Fall in the Garden. Tempted by the serpent, Eve eats fruit from the forbidden tree and persuades Adam to do so. As a result, they are cast out of paradise; pain, sickness and death enter the world, and God makes Eve subject to her husband. There are no doubts about this God being male; he believes a man needs to be in charge!

According to my Catholic school, Adam was the head of the human race, and if Eve had failed to persuade him and she alone had eaten the apple, there would have been no fall. This is a marvel of sexist ingenuity. It would seem difficult to hold the woman responsible for the ensuing tragedy without crediting her with a certain authority. But the myth manages to do this, since the woman is regarded as the guilty party and largely to blame, but only the man is held to possess legitimate power. A patriarchal agenda, according to which women are held to be inferior to men and only what men do is important, characterizes much of Roman Catholic history. This agenda is not confined to the Catholic Church and characterizes much of the Bible. The Adam and Eve story seems partly a myth about liberation and about every person’s attempt to mature to psychological freedom. Eve is to be congratulated rather than blamed, since her disobedience strikes a blow for freedom from patriarchy’s repressive power.

Patriarchal societies are characterized by men having authority over women, as in families where males, like Adam, have power over wives and children. Patriarchy is hierarchical, stresses inequality, inclines to intolerance and wishes to dominate. Bishops and priests have traditionally addressed lay Catholics as ‘My child’, and in recent times the patriarchal power exercised by the Catholic Church has been more paternal; but submission is still expected. History shows that in the past the institutional church has always been ready to resort to coercion and violence when necessary. Patriarchy, as evidenced in the church, is characterized by middle-aged and elderly males exercising authority over youth as well as women, and is threatened by growth in the power of women and the young.

Patriarchy emphasizes duty, what one ought and ought not to do, and praises and blames accordingly. The husband’s or father’s love has to be earned, can be lost, and can be won again by repenting, obeying and submitting. In patriarchy, love is conditional - conditional on good behaviour, conformity and achievement. In contrast, in matriarchy the mother loves her children not because they do their duty or because of any achievement, but simply because they are her children. In matriarchy, all children are equal in the eyes of the mother, and her love is unconditional. Developmental psychology stresses that such unconditional love is essential for psychological development.

Julian of Norwich sees God’s love for us as maternal and unconditional, just there regardless of what we do. The love of Julian’s God is not earned by good behaviour, nor lost by sin, and Julian is assured that, regardless of what we do, we never move outside God’s protection. She repeatedly declares that God loves us even while we sin. Julian stresses the value of our knowing that God’s love and mercy, for ourselves and others, is unconditional and like that of a good mother. The Virgin Mary, as an image of maternal love, is an attempt - history would suggest a largely unsuccessful attempt - to temper the patriarchy of the institutional church.

Belief in male supremacy is central to patriarchy. At the centre of Catholic worship is the mass; only priests can say mass and only men can be priests. In the past, the question of women becoming priests has been considered. But Aquinas, the thirteenth-century theologian, spoke of women’s condition of subjection as making them incapable of achieving the eminence of priestly life. Aquinas seemed to regard women as incomplete, as if they were deficient and defective men. So the church justified the exclusion of women from the priesthood, having decided that women were inferior to men on the basis of a primitive account of human nature and biology. Our knowledge of psychology and biology has developed since the Middle Ages, but the exclusion of women from the priesthood and, consequently, from significant power within the church remains. The 1994 papal declaration of John Paul II, in the Apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, stated that now, and for all time, women cannot be priests. Thérèse of Lisieux records in her autobiography, Story of a Soul, that she felt in herself the vocation to be a priest.

Over the church’s long history, women have held positions of power in religious orders and have been superiors in charge of large convents. Occasionally women have been abbesses in charge of monasteries for both men and women; but their authority has usually extended only over women. By the twelfth century, when the power of the papacy over the church was becoming absolute, even this small presence of women in church authority had gone. Among the reasons why the Albigensians and later the Béguines were condemned was because of their positive attitude to women, such as having women preachers. Significantly; until recently, the overwhelming majority of saints canonized by the Roman Catholic Church have been men.

Many Catholics are puzzled and troubled by the church’s perception of women and by the subordination of women to men within the church. Christianity affirms full equality of all before God. But historians record that when in the fourth century Christianity became, under Constantine, the official religion of the Roman empire, the church gradually developed into a male-dominated hierarchical institution. Perhaps the psychologist is in a better position than the historian to explain why the Catholic Church has remained so. Social psychologists suggest that organizations which emphasize hierarchical authority are hostile to true equality, such as that between women and men. The authoritarian personality is characterized by a preoccupation with power and control, particularly over people. A patriarchal church manifests obvious power and control in its subordination of women.

And social psychologists have demonstrated that authoritarian traditions dislike change; the Roman Catholic tradition has been and remains essentially authoritarian. Authoritarian personalities have difficulty in coping with the new and in acknowledging the reality of development as an integral part of human existence. The authoritarian tradition regards the nature of things as static. The authoritarian personality regards human nature, particularly, as unchanging and holds that differences between women and men, and differences in their lives, are the result of their different biologies, and so inevitable and permanent. The Catholic Church has not been alone in the past in regarding the purpose of women as family and children. But what modern social psychology reveals, and much of modern secular society now recognizes, is the extent to which human ‘nature’ is a product of social and cultural factors, and so able to change. In contrast, the Catholic authoritarian tradition fails, or refuses, to recognize the extent to which human beings are shaped by social and cultural factors, and so capable of change.

If the values of women are different from those of men, as Virginia Woolf suggests, and the personalities of women were - and still are - different from those of men, as social psychology suggests, the cause is partly due to the different circumstances of women and men. A liberal tradition recognizes the effect on women, in the past, of having been culturally, socio-economically and power-politically subordinated. A liberal tradition sees that when circumstances change, men and women change too. The church’s refusal to abandon an outdated view of women relates partly to the inability of authoritarianism to accept the reality of change. Ordaining women would involve the acceptance of change, which an authoritarian tradition has difficulty in doing.

The subordination of women in the church has also, in the past, been the product of a celibate male priesthood’s perception of women as the embodiment of sexuality. This is particularly so in a Catholicism which associates sex with sin. When the celibacy of the clergy was enforced in the twelfth century, celibacy became a rule which eventually became an ideal. The psychological consequence of this was to devalue women and cause them to be seen mainly in terms of their sexuality. Woman came to be regarded in the Catholic Church largely as a sexual and seductive Eve-temptress, and only secondly as a human being.

According to Freudian and object-relations theory accounts, male sexuality suffers from a split. The split causes men to have two images of women - madonna and tart. Men have an idealized romantic fantasy of woman and a contrasting erotic image of woman as sex object. In the New Testament the rift is embodied in the Virgin Mary, the mother of Christ, and Mary Magdalene, the prostitute. Catholicism has elaborated and emphasized these images; Mary is pure madonna, born sinless (the Immaculate Conception), who became the mother of the God-child without having sex (the Virgin Birth), and Mary Magdalene is the sexual fallen woman and prostitute. Such psychological splitting underpins patriarchy.

Psychology recognizes that real and not fantasy women, like real-life men, have within them both dimensions, the feeling romantic-spiritual and the sexual-erotic-physical. But men’s tendency to split women, psychologically, into haloed virgins whom they worship from afar and tart-prostitutes whom they use for their own sexual pleasure, makes it difficult for men to relate to real rather than fantasy women. Object-relations theory sees that the healthy development of male personality involves healing this internal split. Bringing the two images of woman together enables a man to have a proper relationship with a real woman.

In psychoanalytic thought, the split is held to originate in the boy’s relationship with mother. The growing boy and adolescent becomes aware that he is forbidden to have sexual feelings about mother. He has to deny any such feelings and hide them even from himself; as a consequence, they become unconscious. The sexless madonna fantasy of women originates in the boy’s image of mother, from which he has removed any trace of erotic feeling. Object relations theory shows how men project this fantasy, with all eroticism removed, on certain other women. The church’s celibate male hierarchy, in offering the Virgin Mary as a suitable receptacle for this sexless idealizing projection by men, underpins the split within male personality. The Catholic male is left with his strong erotic feelings and with nowhere to put them; for a time they remain within him in the unconscious. Eventually men tend to project these raw sexual feelings on to certain women and see them as tart, prostitute, whore, temptress, adulteress, witch. Many ‘witches’ burnt by the church and state, in the late Middle Ages and after, were ordinary women who for varying reasons, sometimes for their challenge to male authority, became targets for men’s sexual projection. Significantly, such women were often accused of having sex with the Devil.

Carl Jung recognized that the Catholic tradition of Mary as sinless and sexless made her less human. Catholicism has always had difficulty in positively affirming women’s sexuality. And within Catholic patriarchy, Mary who managed motherhood without sex, together with a litany of virgin-saints, has become the object of male madonna fantasies, leaving ordinary women only as embodiments of sexuality. Whatever the value of Catholic teaching on the Virgin, the image of Mary poses problems for both Catholic women and men, making it more difficult for them to acknowledge their own sexuality and shadow. The divided image shores up patriarchy; and Catholicism tends to widen, rather than heal, men’s split image of women.

The situation of the celibate Catholic priest is particularly fraught with psychological difficulty. In order for mature sexual love to be possible, a man in a relationship with a woman has to reconcile within himself his images of woman as sexless madonna and prostitute-tart. But the celibate Roman Catholic priest never needs to do so. Catholic priests in their sermons typically idealize Mary, the virgin-mother, and in their personal lives they idealize their own mothers. Young men in Catholic seminaries are likely to adorn their bedrooms walls with photos of their mothers, where other heterosexual males have pictures of wives, girl-friends, fiancées or female pop-stars. The sexual tart-prostitute feelings within celibate priests often remain undealt-with psychologically. This may explain why some Catholic priests, in heterosexual liaisons, seem sometimes to have little interest in real relationships and to take no responsibility for any children that result. The woman was seen only as sexual being; more tender and concerned madonna-wife feelings are reserved for the statue of Mary in the church.

Celibacy is not responsible for the damaging split which psychoanalysis and object relations see as originating in the boy’s fantasies about his mother. But a significant sexual relationship with a woman, as in a successful marriage, helps men to bring together the two images of the female. So celibate priests are not well situated to heal the division within them. And men in positions of authority within the church never have close relationships with women who might heal the split since, in patriarchy, women are subordinate and kept psychologically at a distance. Psychology sees that scorn for the feminine and a fear of female sexuality characterize patriarchy.

Patriarchy seems, in personality terms, to be society’s embodiment of an excessive emphasis on independent stage values and the Jungian animus. As a result, the patriarchal church’s view of God is the product of men fixated at the independent stage and dominated by their animus. Such men tend to see God in terms of independence and separateness rather than intimate relationship; of love dependent on good behaviour rather than unconditional love; of power and control rather than caring and compassion; of domination rather than equality. In a patriarchal Catholic Church, there is a tendency for God to remain a remarkably harsh, male and macho God.

The patriarchal nature of the church also emerges in its more recent attitude to homosexuality. Historical records suggest that, for much of earlier Christian history, same-sex relationships were accepted by the church and often blessed and solemnized in religious ceremonies. Boswell’s research found throughout Europe manuscripts for same-sex ceremonies, for women as well as men, presided over by priests. But the end of the twelfth century saw the institutional church begin a persecution of those in genital same-sex relationships. Through the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and later, Western Christendom became obsessively hostile to homosexuality.

The late twelfth century saw the arrival of an authoritarian and patriarchal papacy of immense power, which continued unchecked for many centuries. The papacy’s achievement of great power is followed by an intensification of the persecution of Jews and heretics and alchemist-scientists, by the late Crusades and the beginning of the Inquisition, by the enforced celibacy of priests, by the end of what little presence women had in the institutional church, by the burning of ordinary women as witches - and by the persecution of gay people.

In the defence mechanism that Freud called ‘rationalization’, people give lofty but false reasons for what they do, in order to hide their real but less acceptable motives. A father says that he is beating his disobedient son for the boy’s own good, but the truth is that really he is enjoying hitting the boy. When we rationalize, in the Freudian sense, we are often unaware of our real motives; the real causes of our actions are unacceptable to ourselves and usually unconscious. The church’s objection to women priests can be seen as Freudian rationalization. The church in the past has adduced reasons from biology, and in the present from scripture, as to why women cannot be priests; but psychologists would suggest that the real cause of the church’s opposition is the threat which ordained women priests would pose to church patriarchy. Because, in Freudian rationalization, prejudices masquerade as principles and lofty explanations disguise unconscious and base motives, rationalizing usually proves dangerous. Rationalization was behind the papacy’s use of the New Testament to justify the church’s persecution of Jews. Similarly, the papacy’s attempt to condemn homosexuality largely on the basis of a few references from scripture seems, to the psychologist, pure Freudian rationalization.

The late medieval papacy and church used the Sodom story in Genesis, and a number of Old Testament verses, as the basis for rationalizing a hostility to homosexuality already existing within the church. The church then went further and used the Sodom story and the Old Testament verses to justify persecuting gay people. But contrary to Old Testament instruction and practice, Catholics happily eat pork, wear clothes made from more than one material, sleep with a menstruating wife, and nowadays Catholics do not kill people committing adultery and do not own slaves. Modern biblical scholarship now sees that what, according to Genesis, happened at Sodom has nothing to do with the ethics of homosexuality; biblical scholars regard the story as clumsily making a statement about hospitality. In spite of this, the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church still uses the Sodom story to condemn genital gay and lesbian relationships - even though the story presents the gang rape of young women as acceptable! Parts of the Old Testament are, from a Christian perspective, immoral or irrelevant.

It is now the accepted view of the institutional Catholic Church that an informed intelligence has to be applied to understanding all scripture - the New Testament as well as the Old Testament. So the use of a few lines from the New Testament to condemn homosexuality seems further evidence of Freudian rationalization; an authoritarian and patriarchal church’s hostility to homosexuality comes first, and finding ways to justify the hostility follows. If we are to take St Paul’s ambiguous phrases in the New Testament as condemning homosexuality, then we should also abide by his condemnation of men having long hair, his insistence that women cover their hair and remain silent (in church), and obey their husbands (everywhere), his instruction that since the end is near husbands should live as if they do not have wives, and the emphatic injunction in Acts not to eat blood. We might also conclude that charging interest on money loaned was condemned by scripture, as the church concluded in the past when it condemned usury. The church has also used the anti-Jewish tone of parts of the Gospels to justify its antisemitism. And on the basis of incidents and words in the New Testament (on more than one occasion Paul bids slaves to obey their masters), the church has tolerated slavery. But to these and other examples Catholics now apply common sense - of course, antisemitism and slavery are wrong. Since the church now recognizes the value of an informed intelligence - or an informed common sense - in understanding scripture, the case for condemning homosexuality on the basis of a few ambiguous verses in Paul seems weak. Many people’s experience is that they feel sexual love only for those of the same sex, and most psychologists now affirm the goodness of committed same-sex relationships.

According to biblical scholars, St Paul seems to know nothing of those with a gay or lesbian orientation. McNeill, in his study on the Catholic Church and homosexuality, holds that when Paul censures same-sex activity, he is condemning same-sex acts between those who are truly heterosexual, in a context of licentiousness. Paul condemns same-sex acts when this is a deliberate perversion by men and women whose sexuality is really heterosexual, usually associated by Paul with debauchery, prostitution and idol worship. This is light years away from normal loving relationships of gay and lesbian couples. McNeill, an American Jesuit, concludes that Paul’s words are not relevant to men and women of a genuinely same-sex orientation.

Modern biblical scholarship reveals that further misinterpretation adds to the confusion surrounding Paul’s words. The church has condemned homosexuality as being ‘against nature’; but Paul often uses the phrase in a neutral way - as when God acts ‘against nature’ in grafting the branch (of the Gentiles) on the tree (of the Jews). The church, in attempting to justify its prejudice against same-sex relationships with verses from the Old Testament and Paul, seems guilty of Freudian rationalization. Christ appears to have said nothing about homosexuality.

An unambiguous condemnation of homosexuality cannot be derived from the Bible. There is good evidence that the church accepted same-sex relationships for long periods of earlier Christian history. On the basis of the scientific evidence, modern psychology regards homosexuality and its full genital expression as normal and positive. And most psychologists now recognize that gay and lesbian relationships are as capable of genuine love and commitment as any other kind of human relationship. So what is the real cause of the church’s recent hostility to homosexuality? What is hidden behind the church’s rationalizing of its current homophobia?

Psychological accounts of personality and of personality development emphasize the importance of relationships for human beings; psychologists regard loving relationships as crucial to establishing our personal identity and our sense of self. Erikson and Jung, for example, regard the right balance of connectedness with others and of independence as essential to human development and achieving personal wholeness. Fairbairn’s object-relations theory sees an appropriate relatedness with other people as the primary need of the human person. And most such theories of personality, recognizing our relation-shipseeking social being, see our sexuality as expressing a deep need to go out of ourselves to another person. Modern psychology stresses the centrality of relationships in human sexuality.

Even biologically-orientated accounts of personality and development, while acknowledging the place of reproduction, maintain that the function of much human sexual pleasure and practice is primarily psychological, related to bonding. Modern psychologists regard reproduction as only one purpose of human sexual activity and less important than bonding and relationships. Psychologists point out that procreation requires merely a few moments of genital activity, whereas sex is all-pervasive in human life, culture and the arts. With sex so all-pervasive, but so much sexual activity unrelated to procreation, psychological accounts emphasize the crucial role that human sexual activity has in bonding, loving relationships and human identity, all of which fulfil deep human needs and benefit society.

In contrast, the Catholic Church, influenced by the Old Testament, has regarded the purpose of human sexual activity and pleasure as primarily biological, to do with reproduction and childbearing. Psychology sees the institutional church’s condemnation of homosexuality in certain historical periods as connected to the Old Testament tribal directive: Go forth and multiply. Much of the Old Testament is the product of a threatened pastoral society, surrounded by warring tribes, with population growth as an obvious mechanism for survival. The church’s past assertion ‘Outside the church there is no salvation’ is an extreme affirmation of the primacy of the tribe. The Catholic Church’s stress on reproduction seems part of a tribal ethic, concerned with survival of the tribe through population growth. The church has implemented this tribal ethic by relating human sexual pleasure - in the past, exclusively - to child-bearing, as evidenced in the ban on artificial methods of birth control.

In view of Christianity’s emphasis on love, the modern psychologist regards as ironic the Catholic Church’s preoccupation, in human sexuality, with the biological process of reproduction rather than love and relationship. Because of this obsession with reproduction, in the past the church has condemned sexual intercourse between fertile married couples where the intention of procreation was absent. In more recent times, the obsession with reproduction has caused the Catholic Church to condemn, as unnatural or against the ‘natural law’, sexual activity where procreation is not possible, such as when artificial methods of birth control are used or in homosexuality.

The church in very recent times has qualified the Catholic account of sexuality to give a place to love and bonding. But modern psychology sees the church’s continuing emphasis on procreation as evidence of a limited view of personality, which fails to recognize the multi-dimensional nature of the human person. According to psychology, the church still fails to acknowledge adequately the person as a relating being and the extent to which human sexuality expresses the personality’s need for a loving relationship. Many psychologists see the church, in still regarding a couple’s loving relationship as inseparably linked to the biology of reproduction, as remaining essentially tribal in its view of human sexuality. Psychologists, while recognizing the importance of biology, see the human person as social through and through and more than just biology. Psychology reveals unambiguously the mufti-dimensional nature of human beings and the independent place of love, relationship and bonding in human sexuality.

Modern psychology’s emphasis on human bonding, love and relationships as a central and independent function of sexual activity and pleasure undermines the church’s present hostility to homosexuality. If what constitutes the basis for heterosexual marriage is a loving relationship, and not reproduction, then loving same-sex relationships are equally valid. Psychology sees gay and lesbian relationships as valid because human sexual activity is really about relationships of love between two people, far more than about procreation. According to psychology, the church’s present hostility to homosexuality is partly a return to an Old Testament tribal culture, where morality relates psychologically to reproduction and the survival of the tribe. It is difficult to know whether this element of church tribal culture is an atavistic return to an Old Testament ethic or an unconscious belief that emphasizing the importance of child-bearing helps the church to grow. But in such a culture, homosexuality comes to be regarded as dangerous, a form of nonconformity threatening society by its inability to produce the children required for the tribe’s survival and growth.

But hostility to homosexuality can also result when any nonconformity or divergence from the norm is regarded by people, especially those with power, as a threat to society. So liberal societies, generally more tolerant of non-conformity; are more tolerant of homosexuality than authoritarian societies. In Adorno’s The Authoritarian Personality study, authoritarian personalities expressed, as well as antisemitism and racism, hostility to homosexuality. The Authoritarian Personality revealed that the underlying strand, unifying the seemingly disparate targets of the authoritarian personality’s hostility, was an acceptance only of people like themselves. Authoritarian personalities and traditions are intolerant of difference and hostile to people whom they see as different from themselves, such as gay men and lesbians. An authoritarian church in medieval Christian Europe persecuted Jews who were non-conformist simply as a result of holding to their Jewish faith. An authoritarian church has persecuted others not conforming such as heretics, non-believers, alchemist-scientists and those in different Christian traditions. With gay men and lesbians, that the difference relates to sexuality is relevant; The Authoritarian Personality research showed authoritarian personalities to be obsessively concerned with sex, which they associate with sin and guilt. In contrast to the church’s intolerance of homosexuality, which an authoritarian church sees as divergent nonconformity, modern psychology emphasizes the normality of same-sex relationships.

The Catholic Church is also hostile to homosexuality because of the nature of the church’s patriarchy. In the Sodom story in Genesis, Lot invites the men of the town to make sexual use of his daughters. The Bible is suggesting that to meet the obligations of hospitality, by preventing his male guests from being sexually assaulted, Lot should let his two daughters be gang-raped. But the principles of patriarchy, and its sexual rules in particular, invariably have a hidden agenda, which is to state that only what men do is important, and to assert that women are inferior and exist largely for men’s use. Patriarchy is often hostile to homosexuality because, in the sexuality of gay men, a man adopts the role of a woman, which patriarchal societies frequently view as demeaning the status of the male. In the patriarchal perspective of the Catholic Church, men must not lower themselves to the status of women by taking a woman’s sexual position. As the Catholic Church became more patriarchal, the church became hostile to homosexuality and the persecution of gay people began.

The church takes its cue from the Old Testament, which begins with the Adam and Eve story and makes clear that the male is in charge. For a man to adopt the woman’s role in intercourse is, in the agenda of a patriarchal Catholic Church, to identify in a disturbing and demeaning way with woman’s inferior and subordinate position. A patriarchal church probably finds lesbianism also unacceptable for a similar reason; patriarchy holds that women who in a lesbian relationship adopt a more assertive role are usurping the role which patriarchy regards as the prerogative of the male. But the relevant verses in the Bible appear to show less concern with lesbianism, possibly because sexual relationships between women appear less of a threat to patriarchy than relationships between men. Patriarchy’s rules about sex, written by men, are to create and maintain a social order in which women are inferior to men and where only what men do is important. And since Catholic patriarchy regards a man in a gay relationship as demeaning the status of the male by seemingly acting the part of a woman, and since in a lesbian relationship a woman may adopt a role which Catholic patriarchy regards as a male preserve, homosexuality also challenges the attitude to women that characterizes a patriarchal church. The subordination of women and hostility to homosexuality are related in a patriarchal Catholic Church.

Tribalism, authoritarianism and a patriarchal agenda co-exist within the institutional church. An explanation in terms of Freudian rationalization reveals that among the real causes of the church’s hostility to same-sex relationships is a tribal concern for the reproduction of offspring, an authoritarian preoccupation with conformity to a sexual norm and a patriarchal assertion of male dominance. A church that is less tribal, and not obsessed with procreation, would place greater emphasis on love and relationships in human sexuality. A church that is less authoritarian, and not obsessed with power and conformity, would find departures from the norm acceptable and welcome difference. A church that is less patriarchal, and not obsessed with male domination, would begin truly asserting the equality of women and enable women to take their rightful place in the church. A less tribal, authoritarian and patriarchal Catholic Church would affirm the goodness and holiness of same-sex relationships as an expression of committed human love.

The present institutional church is intolerant of non-conformity, bans artificial methods of birth control, condemns the sexuality of gay men and lesbians, insists on a celibate priesthood and subordinates women. In contrast with Christianity’s central image, of a man not as powerful oppressor but as crucified and powerless victim, there persists beneath the veneer of the institutional church a harsh, authoritarian and patriarchal God who loves only conditionally and is male. When in 1950 the Catholic Church declared infallible the dogma of the Assumption, the belief that Mary had been taken bodily into heaven, Carl Jung was pleased. Jung, stressing that he was not questioning any metaphysical reality expressed by the teaching, valued the dogma as a symbolic expression of the feminine being incorporated into the Godhead. The dogma of the Assumption can be seen, psychologically, as an attempt by the Catholic Church to bring more of the feminine into a male and patriarchal Christian God. Jung, on the basis of his considerable anthropological knowledge, reports in Answer to Job that ‘it was recognized even in prehistoric times that the primordial divine being is both male and female’.

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